Friday, August 28, 2015

Green is not the color/colour of my true love’s hair

...but it is the color/colour of the outfit she wore at my recent “retiring-as-pianist-but-not-leaving” reception:

...and of some of the icing on the cake:

...and of the pastor’s shirt and the bag the marginata plant was in (here are 3 views of each):

It was even incorporated into the lei and the paper napkins:

Green is also the color/colour of my newest favorite thing, a gardenia bush planted three years ago by our back door. People sometimes say of English ivy that the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, and the third year it leaps. This saying applies as well to our gardenia bush, because after two years of sleeping and creeping, it suddenly began blooming this month for the very first time. Today I counted eleven gardenias growing on it, but I couldn’t get them all in one photograph:

Note to my loyal readers: Although I have not yet turned into a doddering old fool, I am well on the way to becoming one.

You do not have to agree with me in the comments.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A few of my current favorite things

1. At the retirement party last Sunday, each table was adorned with a bud vase containing red and yellow roses with baby’s breath. After the party, Suzi R. gathered them all up into two absolutely gorgeous bouquets and presented them to us. Here they are on the huntboard in our kitchen, along with a framed example of Mrs. RWP’s counted-cross-stitch embroidery and some of her mother’s crochet work under a pillar candle:

2. We received many beautiful cards as well as this beautiful marginata plant from Jane and Roger C. and a stunning terrarium from Tammy and Charlie H. that included a grand piano, a candelabrum worthy of Liberace, and even a little white dog. Do they know us or what?:

3. The cargo space of our new vehicle (new to us, anyway), a 2006 Nissan Murano:

4. An enormous biscuit (not to same scale as previous item) from Pappas’s Restaurant in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. I consumed this particular biscuit back in the first week of June, nearly three months ago, but -- as we all know -- nothing ever really goes away on the internet:

5. Mrs. RWP’s famous Cherry-Pineapple Dump Cake, the last piece of which I would have enjoyed at our church’s monthly fellowship luncheon if our friend Becky R. hadn’t got there first:

6. The non-politically-correct woman (no photo available) I met yesterday in a doctor’s waiting room (no photo available) who announced the following to the entire room after someone said the staff elevator had been acting up all morning:

“I would never get on that elevator. I hate elevators. If there is any chance I might get stuck in one, I will not get on it. And I won’t get on an elevator if more than eight people are in it. My children will tell you, when they were small they would count: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Mama, we’ll have to wait for the next elevator. And I hate albinos. And midgets. And clowns. I’m afraid of them. I have a fear of albinos and midgets and clowns. Lord, if I got on an elevator and an albino midget clown walked in, I would probably drop dead right there.”

It was like something in a Flannery O’Connor short story. Her eyes grew big when I volunteered, “Perhaps you're attracting them.”

Monday, August 17, 2015

Retirement party

Yesterday the little Methodist church I attend put together a reception for me upon my retirement after five years as their pianist.

There is an old joke that “Old musicians never die; they just decompose.”

I will pause until the groaning stops.

In my own case, the following photograph is proof that I did not retire, I was lei’d off.

I hasten to add that I was neither “lei’d off” nor forced out. It was my own decision and completely voluntary. I started being a church pianist/organist when I was about 13 and I will soon be 75. With the possible exception of breathing, I think 62 years is enough time to spend on any activity.

Mrs. RWP and I are not leaving the congregation; I am merely stepping down from the weekly musical tasks. How could we leave the most loving people in the world?

Let the decomposing begin.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Distant echoes, half-remembered hills

A poem I like a lot is “Song for Lost Youth” by one Neil Theasby of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom, Europe, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, Universe. I liked the poem enough to add it a while back to my sidebar over on the right side of the screen.

If your eyeballs are simply too tired or too lazy to make the trip or you gave up scrolling for Lent and never resumed the practice, I have reproduced the poem below for your reading convenience:

Song for Lost Youth

Perhaps I should have cradled it
Like a dove
Kept it safe with tender love
But I squandered it -
Like a wild mountain stream
Desperate for an ocean
That was but a distant dream.
...I just never thought
That I could have loitered in the shallows
Reflecting the blueness of the sky
- Concealing silver fishes
- Quietly biding my time
- Stretching it out.
And so, and so it’s gone now
- My ephemeral youth
- That precious once only gift
- That honeyed sweetness,
Leaving only the trembling resonance
Of distant echoes
From half-remembered hills.

(Neil Theasby, 2013. Used by permission.)

You can have your Tennysons, your Byrons, your Whitmans, your Brownings. Today I’ll take Theasby. His poem resonates with me.

I think I have figured out why I like Neil’s poem so much. For me, it’s not just about youth. It’s about life.

I’m no spring chicken, and there are very few hills left for me. To be more accurate, probably none. On my next birthday -- still several months away -- I’ll be 75 years old. I’ve reached the coastal plain. I’m getting nearer to the sea all the time. I can feel the breezes. I can hear the sea birds. I can smell the seawater.

Some people say life is like climbing a mountain and that we struggle ever upward, surmounting obstacle after obstacle, until at last, after always ascending, we finally reach the summit. “Song for Lost Youth” turns that metaphor on its head and describes life as a descent instead, a headlong plunge that finds us cascading from the dizzying heights, ever downward, to the inevitable place where we join all who have come before us and all who will come after.

You have to hand it to poets. They can come up with some nifty metaphors.

For example, William Wordworth (1770 - 1850) wrote the following in “Ode on Intimations of Immortality From Recollections Of Early Childhood” about birth:

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!”

...and William Cullen Bryant (1794 - 1878) wrote in “Thanatopsis” about death:

“So shalt thou rest -- and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glides away, the sons of men--
The youth in life’s fresh spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man--
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn, shall follow them.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.”

All that having been said, all those metaphors having gone under the bridge or over the dam or nighty-night to bed or down the trail with the camels (pick one), I hope to keep on breathing until I am 108 and outlive the lot of you.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Taking care of business in a crazy world

The following notice from Blogger or Google (or somebody) has suddenly begun to appear on the Overview page in the bowels of my blog:

European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google’s use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies.

You are responsible for confirming this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third party features, this notice may not work for you. Learn more about this notice and your responsibilities.

In that last sentence, the words “Learn more” were in blue, and clicking on them brought up even more information. I show it to you below, but as I am now officially tired of looking at italic font you will just have to make do with reading it in regular Times Roman:

Cookies notification in European Union countries

European Union (EU) laws require you to give EU visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to help meet these regulations. The notice lets visitors know about Google’s use of certain Blogger and Google cookies on your blog, including Google Analytics and AdSense cookies.

Change the notice

How to change or disable notice

If you have edited your blog in a way that hides this notice, it will be your responsibility to notify your visitors about cookies used on your blog and if necessary, obtain consent. Also, if you have added other blog features that set cookies, including third-party analytics or advertising services, you’ll need to provide additional or a different notice.

It is your responsibility to determine, based on your cookie use, what else would be appropriate. If you choose to use a different notice, be sure you still comply with Google’s EU user consent policy.

See the notice

To see the notice if you’re outside of the EU, view your blog and change the country code, for example or If you use a custom domain, you won’t see the notice outside of the EU.

I showed you all of that to say this:

1. I have no idea whether I have edited my blog in a way that hides this notice.
2. I have no idea whether I have added other blog features that set cookies.
3. I have no idea what third-party analytics are.
4. I have no idea what advertising services are.
5. Even though Blogger or Google or somebody tells me it is my responsibility to determine what else would be appropriate, we Americans have been historically and remain to this day a rebellious lot who do not like to be told what to do by such entities as the European Union or England’s King George III.
6. I am definitely outside of the EU and therefore cannot see the aforementioned notice, but I have no intention of changing the country code to, for example, or in order to see it.

Therefore, I am asking my EU readers (Neil, Michelle, Gary, Adrian, others, this means you) to tell me in the comments section of this post whether you see from your vantage points the pesky notice Blogger or Google or somebody is so insistent that my blog provide. I am also asking non-EU readers who care to to let me know whether you have received similar instructions and what, if anything, you plan to do about it.

Furthermore, I would also like to inform Blogger or Google or somebody, and especially the EU itself, that I did not go to the EU users, they came to me, and if they want to take steps to comply with EU laws on their end and choose to do so, they can. I, on the other hand, being a citizen of the United States and not the EU, am responsible for complying with U.S. laws, not those promulgated by the exalted leaders of the EU. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Perhaps I am making a mountain out of a molehill.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fourscore and zero years ago...

...may sound like a very long time to you, but in the overall scheme of things it is practically yesterday.

Time flies when you’re having fun (and even when you aren’t).

All of which is to say, today is Mrs. RWP's 80th birthday!

We celebrated it yesterday (because it was easier for the family to get together on a Sunday afternoon than on a Monday evening) at our oldest son’s home. Here is the culinary proof:

All 14 members of our clan, plus Chester the dog and Gracie the cat, were in attendance. You’re going to have to take my word for it, as everyone was too busy enjoying one another’s company to take a photograph of the honoree.

But it can be reliably reported that a good time was had by all, especially in the consuming of the cake.

Friday, July 24, 2015

We are all connected, but some are a little more connected than others

“Six Degrees of Separation” original artwork by Daniel Walker, 2010, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Some people say that every person in the world is connected to every other person in the world by not more than six degrees of separation. I have no idea whether this theory is true, but I do know one thing.

Sometimes six degrees are far more than are necessary.

It has been a sad week hereabouts. One of the five American servicemen shot and killed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 16th -- surely you heard about it even in other countries -- was a local boy. The local radio and television stations have been reporting almost non-stop since the moment he was identified as one of the victims. It’s safe to say that the entire region has been affected and we all share in his family’s sorrow. Most, of course, do not know the family personally.

We did.

Lance Corporal Squire K. “Skip” Wells of the United States Marine Corps was 21 years old at the time of his death. He graduated in 2012 from the same high school that my three children attended back in the 1980s. His mother, Cathy, was a classmate of our three children at the same school. They were all members of the school’s marching band. Mrs. RWP and I worked alongside Cathy’s mother (Skip’s grandmother) raising money for the Band Boosters Club. When my daughter decided to attend a university about a hundred miles away from home, her first roommate there was Cathy, who was in her second year there.

Corporal Skip Wells’s body was returned to a local funeral home yesterday. Many people stood waving flags on bridges and lined the streets between the airport and the funeral home. His funeral service will be held on Sunday afternoon at the largest church in the area; it can seat seven or eight thousand, I think, and it will probably be full. A public memorial service was held on Tuesday evening at his high school’s football stadium; it was reportedly attended by over five thousand people.

Sadly, the same sorts of events are taking place for the four other military men who lost their lives in the senseless attack. The people of Chattanooga have been hit especially hard.

This is not the first time in my life that we have had a personal connection to a major event.

The brother of a woman we have known for 40 years was killed in the World Trade Center attack in New York City on September 11, 2001.

I hope you can maintain emotional and physical distance from violent events in our world. For some, like Mrs. RWP and me this week, they sometimes come just a little too close.